HIMSS18 Health Information Exchange Predictions and Progress

Written by: Brian Mack

January 10, 2018

Brian Mack

Brian Mack

For the last several years, I have had the opportunity to be part of a small contingent of Great Lakes Health Connect staff to attend the “largest gathering of health information technology professionals in the world”. This gathering is a annual conference presented by the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

Beginning in 2018, my involvement increased dramatically, when I was selected to be a HIMSS Social Media Ambassador. This group of twenty leaders represents a broad cross-section of healthcare disciplines and acts as an extension of the traditional industry press. We specialize in leveraging social media channels to report on what is happening in Health IT before, during, and after the conference. I am excited to continue in this role at the 2019 HIMSS conference.

One pre-conference contribution that I make as the “unofficial” Health Information Exchange representative is my perspective on the “state of the industry”. As we prep for HIMSS19, I thought it would be constructive to look back on observations from last year and see how much has changed, and ideally improved in the intervening months.

The title of the 2018 article was “Progress Toward Achieving Interoperability”. It explored the contributions that Health Information Exchange (HIE) (noun) was making at local, regional, and national levels.



Redefining the Meaning, Role, and Value of Health Information Exchange


The capabilities of health information exchange organizations, beyond rudimentary point-to-point transactional connections between healthcare providers, has advanced significantly. Leveraging the vast amount of health data available, HIEs can now offer insight-focused services and solutions. Their natural position in the middle of local care continuums positions HIEs to be integral contributors, conveners, collaborators, and catalysts for Triple Aim focused care delivery. The challenge and opportunity in 2018 and beyond, is to clearly communicate the many ways that health information exchange organizations can add value to the provider community, beyond their historical core competencies.


The past year has been stacked with testimonials detailing how HIE organizations across the nation are leveraging healthcare data to inform, improve and enhance healthcare delivery. The fact remains that their greatest strengths for developing close relationships with local providers, an intimate understanding of the unique workflows in their communities, and the ability to perform and thrive within varied regulatory environments, are also the dynamics that present the greatest ongoing opportunity and challenge. This transformation is a marathon, not a sprint, and will continue into the foreseeable future.



Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) Patient Centered Data Home


Most efforts to achieve national interoperability at scale such as CommonWell and CareQuality are largely vendor-driven, and take a top-down approach to achieving the goal.

The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), a national trade organization for HIEs, launched an alternative, bottom-up approach to achieve this goal. The program, known as the Patient Centered Data Home™ (PCDH), connects SHIEC Member organizations across state lines for sharing patient data. After piloting the PCDH concept in three regions involving seventeen HIE organizations across fourteen states, SHIEC announced a national agreement among their membership to roll out the initiative nationwide.


In the last year, the SHIEC Patient Centered Data Home initiative has grown from 17 participating organizations in 14 states, to include 26 participants in 25 states. More than three million notifications have been exchanged among PCDH participants, representing over one million patients served. SHIEC continues to focus on growing the PCDH network across the nation, with the goal of achieving a truly national network for health information exchange.



Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) & U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI)


On January 5, 2018 the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) released drafts of two documents for public review and comment. They are the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), and the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI). Both were required by The 21st Century Cares Act of 2016, and were intended respectively to act as a blueprint for achieving nationwide health information exchange (AKA: Interoperability), and to define the minimum standard for what data is to be exchanged.


Reaction to these draft documents from across the healthcare industry was as varied as it was robust. An ONC spokesman said that the agency received more than 200 comments in response. They took this feedback under advisement with a commitment to issue a revised version before the end of 2018. As of now that revision has yet to be released, but it is anticipated any day and will certainly have a significant impact on Health Information Exchange in 2019. Whether or not that impact is positive or negative is yet to be determined.


The State of the Industry 2019

Based on the indicators outlined above, I give Health Information Exchange  solid credit for continuing to push for progress and innovation in 2018. . The thing about predictions is that there is ALWAYS another one, right around the corner. In fact, my 2019 HIE Industry Perspective for the upcoming HIMSS conference is already written and will be available (www.himssconference.org) soon.

Follow my perspective on HIMSS 19 by following @BFMack and @GLHC_HIE on Twitter. Search for the #HIMSS19 hashtag.

If you plan to be in Orlando this February, let us know (info@gl-hc.org). We would love to connect!